Kid-Friendly New Year’s Traditions from Around the World
Looking for some creative ways to celebrate New Year’s with your kids? Here are some fun kid-friendly New Year’s traditions from around the world!
In my family we stayed up late playing board games, one of the reasons I came up with a special New Year’s board game last year for Monkey.
We also loved to watch the ball drop in Times Square. So why not make your own glitzy New Year’s ball in this tutorial from Makeovers and Motherhood?
Of course, munching on great food as we waited for midnight was also important! As you think of foods to serve for your New Year’s Eve celebrations, or your first dinner of the New Year, consider these wonderful New Year’s food traditions (with recipes!) from around the world, showcased by Global Table Adventure. She even has wonderful drink ideas for you – scroll to the bottom for non-alcoholic ones to try with your kiddos. MarocMama has a huge collection of New Year’s Eve party foods – that are actually healthy!
Many traditions revolve around prosperity and good luck, such as the traditional New Year’s meal from the US South, shared by Frances of Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes. I never knew that collard greens represented dollar bills! Giuliana of Washington, Dead Chef teaches us a wonderful lentil soup recipe from Italy. Did you know the tradition of lentils for New Year’s actually goes back to ancient Rome? Give it a try if your finances need a boost! In Germany many people give gifts of small marzipan pigs for good luck – make your own in this tutorial from Red Ted Art!
Stacy of Kids Stuff World has taken the “food for good luck” tradition a step further in this super fun game where what you eat on New Year’s really does set the tone for the year!
I was in high school when I was first introduced to the Latin American tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, one for each stroke of midnight. This fun tradition would also be easy to adapt to an earlier children’s celebration. Spanish Playground has a wonderful printable activity and coloring page to get you started!
The grapes tradition is also popular in Brazil. Thereza of Howling Kids Yoga says that, “In Brazil you should wear white or at least light colors (black is a big no-no), if possible brand new clothes. Superstitions have us eat grapes and 8 pomegranate seeds. To invite money some eat rice with lentils, which I love. Some people like to jump 3 waves at midnight for good luck. Tons of fireworks and partying all over!!!”
You can read about Becky of Kid World Citizen’s first encounter with the 12 grapes tradition in Mexico – plus other fun New Year’s Eve traditions there. Watch for the red underwear! Turns out the red underwear tradition is also popular in Italy, as red is considered good luck.
Fireworks are a common tradition in many parts of the world. Annabelle in Germany (the piri-piri lexicon) says, “Germans are crazy about fireworks. Everyone goes out in the street and lights some up. I have never seen so many in my life.” Amanda in the Netherlands (Expat Life with a Double Buggy) says, “We eat oliebollen with the kids and at midnight watch the fireworks which light up the Dutch skies rather spectacularly.” Ute of expatsincebirth says of the Netherlands, “It’s amazing how long they celebrate. They start in the afternoon (children’s “fireworks”) and end only around 3pm. The noise is incredible. I once celebrated New Years in Naples and I may compare these two ways to celebrate New Years. The amount NL’s spend for the fireworks is incredible.” She adds that there are plenty of fireworks in Germany and Switzerland too, “there are very strict rules about how long you’re allowed to be “crazy” (i.e. make noise…), whereas here [in the Netherlands] there don’t seem to be such kind of restrictions.”
Ute also remembers a German tradition from her childhood: “When we were children, with my cousins we used to burn lead as an oracle for the next year.” This tradition, she explains, is called Bleigießen: here is an explanation in German, or you can watch a video of this tradition – can you tell which shape is a guitar and which a frog? Read more about this tradition – and how it can help family appreciate the small moments – from Red Ted Art.
Olga of The European Mama remembers ice skating with her parents in Berlin, and her German in-laws also have the tradition of eating Berliner (round daughnuts).
Olga also shares some fun Polish traditions: “1) you burn your worries (you write them down on a strip of paper and then you burn them- not for children alone but can be done when adults are around). 2) you don’t sweep the house so as not to sweep out the good luck- that is easy to follow, no? 3) the housewife tries to have a full pantry so that it will bring luck and prosperity for the New Year. A good idea for this would be making preserves, maybe.”
In Russia, children receive presents on New Year’s from Grandfather Frost, as described by Russian Step by Step. Natalie of Planet Smarty Pants explains that this focus on New Year’s is a result of the Soviet government’s deliberate effort to move celebrations from Christmas to a secular celebration on New Year’s. In her home country of Belarus, these days celebrations are split among December 24 (Catholic), New Year’s (secular), and January 7 (Orthodox). You can read more about Grandfather Frost in a wonderful post from Crafty Moms Share about gift-bringers from around the world.
Anna of Russian Step by Step for Children explains that, “Following the Russian tradition where Grandfather Frost gives presents after the child recites a poem or sings a song we try to learn with my daughter a poem and a song in Russian that is winter related and perform it on New Year’s eve before getting the presents from under the tree.” You can read more about Russian winter holidays from Anna. They really know how to celebrate New Year’s!
Making resolutions is a popular tradition. You can also use these New Year’s resolution from the American Academy of Pediatrics – in Spanish! Spanish Playground has great ideas for how to use them with kids. Maria (now of Trilingual Mama) has a great way to do New Year’s resolutions with kids – make collages to represent their goals! Similar to resolutions are the year long monthly activity plans made by Lana’s family in the Netherlands (Smart Tinker). If your kids are feeling blue about taking down the Christmas tree, you could take Temecula Qponer’s idea to turn it into a resolution tree!
I love this idea Year Full of Blessings jar that Mommy Maestra shared. What a wonderful tradition! Mama Smiles has a lovely tradition of having her children look back over the past year and look ahead to the next. A simple but meaningful activity from Buggy and Buddy is to create a wishing wall with wishes for the new year. I also adore this yearly time capsule idea from BPhotoArt. Royal Little Lambs has beautiful downloadable cards you can use to reflect on special memories with your kids.
Varya of Creative World of Varya shares that in China “our friends invite us over on 31st or 1st every year. They all get together with family and some friends, have homemade potluck dinner and then sing karaoke at home and play a game where everyone has to do a small performance. This has become a tradition!”
Kay of A Crafty Arab (from Libya but now living in the US) writes, “Every January 1st, we take a walk to our local no leash dog park that is down the hill from our house. We each take a funny hat to wear and head for the same bench we sit at every year. We wait for someone to ask to take our photo and then ask if it’s okay for their dog to be in our photo. No one has ever said no. I love looking at these annual photos of my girls over the years, each time with a different silly hat…and a different ‘family’ dog!”
Nadia of Teach Me Mommy (South Africa) says, “When we were younger we always set alarms, all the alarms in the house (phones, watches, radios etc.) for 12am, and then see which one goes off first, and let it go off for a whole minute, or until all caught up.”
Amanda of MarocMama writes, “In Morocco families might get together and have a cake or something to celebrate but it’s not really a big deal nor are there any special fun things that go along with it. We never really are able to do anything as it’s our youngest son’s birthday that day lol!”
Of course, the New Year isn’t celebrating on January 1 in all parts of the world. The Lunar New Year – celebrated in many parts of East Asia – falls in February this year, and the Hindu harvest festival Sankrati is coming up in a few weeks. Shruti of Artsy Craftsy Mom (India) writes, “New Year for us actually falls on Ugadi which is in March. So the English New Year has no traditions as such.. We just chill with friends & family & throw confetti at each other lol.”
You can find more fun New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world from Crafty Moms Share and this wonderful collection from Red Ted Art. You can find global traditions plus more fun ideas from A Mother Far from Home. There are also lots of fun New Year’s activities for kids gathered by Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail. And if, like us, you really love games then you need to check out these international games and food ideas from One Time Through!
Thanks so much for mentioning our New Years games post! It was fun reading about all these traditions – you found lots of ones that I hadn’t heard of! So neat for the kids to learn about all these different ideas! Best, Sue
Thanks, Sue! It was really fun to do. Thanks for letting me share your post! Great minds think alike!
What a wonderful job putting all these together – what a great collection! And thank you for mentioning Howling Kids Yoga in the post. I wish you and your family a wonderful 2015, full of blessings!!
Thank you so much! Thank you for sharing these traditions with us, and a wonderful year to you and yours!